Photos by Bradley B. Ware. Submitted by Bradley B. Ware, President, Texas Early Day Tractor and Engine Association, Rt. 3, Box 211, Killeen, Texas 76542.
Even the best made plans sometimes have to be changed at the last minute. The Texas Early Day Tractor and Gas Engine Association found that out on October 1 and 2 when they met in Speegleville, Texas, to hold their 17th Annual State Show.
The gathering was to be held on leased acreage, just as in past years. The larger pieces of equipment had been moved in earlier in the week, along with tents, display booths and all the paraphernalia that go along with accommodating over 6,000 guests for the weekend. What was not planned was the almost five inches of rain that fell the night before the festivities were to begin. The field became a quagmire. Add to this the presence of several tornadoes in the area and the organizers' visions of the perfect show were quickly going down the drain.
Thanks to Calvin Buice, a club member who lives in Speegleville, the show was saved. He graciously offered his large building and land, and the show was held as planned, with continuous adjustments to accommodate changing conditions. Demonstrations and concessions were erected inside the metal building and the antique pieces were displayed along each side of the road. About 2,000 visitors came out to visit the 'show by the side of the road'.
One of the happy results of the miserable conditions was the hay rides pulled by antique tractors which carried the folks back and forth the half mile from the temporary show site to the place where the larger pieces of equipment were bogged down. Even though threshing was not possible, the visitors were able to view the large threshers, along with the larger tractors, engines, and syrup press. Many of the spectators enjoyed the hay ride as much as looking at the equipment, so next year's show will include hay rides just for the fun of it.
Members Doug Landry and Bill Schramm received numerous compliments on the fine restorations of their tractors while pulling the trailers for the hay rides.
Even with all the sticky mud and less than ideal conditions, spirits remained high and an overwhelming amount of beans and cornbread were sold by the ladies operating the concession stand. This year another antique five gallon ice cream freezer (run by an antique engine, of course) was added and still could not keep up with the demand. One of the new money makers this year was the popcorn machine run by Sammy and Peggy Thomas.
The ladies of the concession area were responsible for the financial success of this year's show because it was impossible to have any gate or admission since the show was spread up and down the road. Another asset was the flea market which made its debut at this year's show.
Because of the conditions, most of the tractors were left on the trailers to keep them from getting muddy, while about 20 tractors participated in the parade, compared to over 80 entries in 1987. Visitors were treated to some unplanned 'tractor pulling' as several of the old lug wheel tractors buried down to the axle.
One of the members, Monk Ivicic, spent two days prior to the weekend working on his truck, which had broken down on the trip to the show site. After rigging up a temporary tent to protect him from the rain, Monk proceeded to tear down the engine and replace one of the pistons which had developed a rather large hole. He had the truck fired up and ready to go by show time.
Several new exhibits were enjoyed by this year's visitors. A V-mesh wire weaver demonstrated by Rody Whitehead won the award for 'Most Outstanding Demonstration' and was really an attention getter. Rope making by the Ferguson brothers also drew large crowds. One of the more unusual demonstrations was the hand crank goat shearing by John Conners. Quilting was demonstrated by Mrs. Bertran.
The old west was brought back to life through several gun fight performances by the Central Texas Pistoleros.
The Speegleville Volunteer Fire Department did an excellent job of controlling traffic and making sure that everything went safely. The 'show by the side of the road' created a constant traffic jam.
During the annual business meeting, officers were elected for the coming year. Bradley Ware was re-elected for his third term as President. Other officers are Bill Garrett, Vice President and Laurie Miller, Secretary-Treasurer. Other business included changing the club's name from 'Texas Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association' to 'Texas Early Day Tractor and Engine Association'. This was brought about by the threatened law suit of the national organization, with which the club is not affiliated.
One of the most emotional parts of this year's show came when tears were brought to the eyes of Cathy Landry. During the parade she was called away from her duties as the ice cream chairperson to pull one of the whistles on Calvin Buice's steam tractor. As it turned out, it was the whistle given to her by her father, but she had never heard it because he died before being able to hook it up. It was one of those special little moments that club members are able to enjoy with each other as a family.
Plans are already underway for the 1989 show, scheduled for October 7 & 8 with the hope that Mother Nature will be a little more cooperative than this past year. For information on this organization contact Bradley B. Ware, Rt. 3, Box 211, Killeen, Texas 76542.